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Twitter says Russia Today bought $274K in ads to target US market in 2016 election

In a post published on Twitter's official blog today, the company continued the discussion of their approach to bots and misinformation that they started earlier this summer. This time, though, Twitter's Public Policy team focused more on their findings with respect to Russian attempts to undermine the democratic process.

The company said that it discovered upwards of 200 Twitter accounts affiliated with the Russian government, and three of those, which are connected to news site Russia Today, had purchased a multitude of ads targeted at the U.S. market in 2016:

Today we proactively shared with committee staff a round-up of ads that three RT accounts (@RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT) targeted to the U.S. market in 2016. As of our meetings today we believe this is the complete list from these three accounts within that time frame, but we are continuing to review our internal data and will report back to the committees as we have more to share. Based on our findings thus far, RT spent $274,100 in U.S. ads in 2016. In that year, the @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT accounts promoted 1,823 Tweets that definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market. These campaigns were directed at followers of mainstream media and primarily promoted RT Tweets regarding news stories.

Twitter also touched on how it responds to any activity that impedes the voting process:

When we become aware of such activity we take appropriate and timely action. During the 2016 election, we removed Tweets that were attempting to suppress or otherwise interfere with the exercise of voting rights, including the right to have a vote counted, by circulating intentionally misleading information.

However, Twitter's blog post wasn't all about current political events. In addition, the company wanted to remind its users that its battle against dangerous misinformation isn't singularly focused:

It's important to note our work to fight both malicious bots and misinformation goes beyond any one specific election, event, or time period. We've spent years working to identify and remove spammy or malicious accounts and applications on Twitter. And we continue to improve our internal systems to detect and prevent new forms of spam and malicious automation, in real time, while also expanding our efforts to educate the public on how to identify and use quality content on Twitter.

The social media giant also further clarified its methods for dealing with malicious bots, spam-like human-directed accounts, political advertising, and those who attempt to game trending topics.

For more detailed information concerning this issue, visit Twitter's blog.

Tory Foulk is a writer at Mobile Nations. She lives at the intersection of technology and sorcery and enjoys radio, bees, and houses in small towns. When she isn't working on articles, you'll likely find her listening to her favorite podcasts in a carefully curated blanket nest. You can follow her on Twitter at @tsfoulk.

2 Comments
  • Hilarious! The USA has done far worse than Russia by meddling in hundreds of elections around the world since turn of the century. Our influence has actually destroyed and overthrown certain governments.
  • Lets talk about fake news and misinformation. Has ANYONE offered proof of this? Has ANYONE blamed Facebook for ALLOWING a Russian company to allegedly buy ads on Facebook? There are hundreds of accounts that Hillary and alike used to spread their disinformation too. Same accounts, posting the same thing, at the same time. Further, Russia bought Hillary. She told a story of Putin taking her around the Kremlin or something, to have tea and stuff. Putin has expelled our people working in Russia since Trump got in. Hillary didn't protest when a Russian company wanted to buy 20% of our nuclear PRODUCTION ability. She deleted her emails because they were proof of this. I come here for iPhone news, not fake news. I know times are tough for you guys with people blocking ads, but do you need to be bought this way? None of these statements Twitter, Facebook, or anyone says make logical sense when scrutinized.